The Spam that goes beep in the night: Stopping SMS Spam

The other night my wife's mobile beeped and vibrated as two SMS text messages barged into her phone at 4am. We were both delighted seeing as the phone was on the bedside table, waking us both. The next morning she checked and saw two lovely spam messages.

Hence the past hour or so spent trying to stop it from happening again. We're both with T-Mobile and they're call centre staff are usually quite helpful so I gave them ring. After faffing through the menus (joy) I got through to a human who told me one thing several times “There's nothing we can do about spam.” Right, thanks buddy.

Phone Scream

He was nice and friendly as he said it. But still he could have said “Have you tried registering with x” or “If the spam persists report it to our unsolicited messages team” or “Your phone has a feature to block certain numbers” or even “If you pay us we can block it.” But no, nothing, zip, nada. Not interested.

So, as always, I went online and started by searching all of the barely usable T-Mobile UK site for 'spam' or 'unsolicited' which resulted in… nothing. With lots of fiddling, opening the site in Firefox and Safari eventually I found “Unfortunately, it's not yet possible to bar incoming text messages.” Great.

So after lots of Googling the best I can do, it would seem, is register our numbers with the Telephone Preference Service which may do the job. Let's face it, the network operators profit from every SMS message sent, so why stop the little money makers?

The information I've found has been sketchy and contradictory but I believe there is EU legislation pending to try and cut down on SMS spam. It's dependent on how each country implements it though… I think we're yet to see the UK version. I hope in the future phones will offer filters for this kinds of thing while the spammers themselves get thwacked by the authorities. Hopefully, maybe?

I'll let you know if we get less SMS spam too…

The Others

In the interests of completeness I then had to go and check out the other phone networks. So in descending order of patheticness here's my findings:

Vodafone have a VSPAM service which seems fairly pro-active. Any message sent to the VSPAM service is going to be blocked, they imply. If an 090 number is in the spam they also pass the spam to the appropriate regulator.
http://online.vodafone.co.uk/dispatch/Portal/appmanager/vodafone/wrp?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=Page_BOS_MainContent&pageID=AV_0054

Orange aren't exactly spectacular in their help but they do offer useful tips and advice online. They also implicity do something about spam as they encourage users to forward spam messages to a special short code number. Still they don't do Blackberries so not much good for me.
http://www.orange.co.uk/about/contact/spam/

I finally cracked O2's dreadful site with an advanced Google search which showed one page just telling people to report messages to the premium number regulator ICSTIS. Not helpful or proactive at all. http://www.o2.co.uk/help/spam_advice/0,,500,00.html

I could find nothing at all about spam from 3.

SMS Spam Links

43% of text messages in the US are now spam according to Wireless Services Corporation.
http://www.informationweek.com/story/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=60404039

Text spam complaints skyrocket in South Korea.
http://www.engadget.com/entry/1234000520024878/

Children burned by SMS Spam on the CBBC Newsround site.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/cbbcnews/hi/chat/your_comments/newsid_2450000/2450311.stm

Legal moves to stop SMS spam around the world…
http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,61226,00.html

Excellent overall guide to SMS Spam.
http://www.wiredsafety.org/gb/law/spam/sms_spam.html